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Love gifts from a god

Viliame Odro
Sunday, June 18, 2017

"NO matter what difficulties I have to face, I will gladly overcome all the obstacles in my path to reach the hill from which it rises, Delaikurukuru."

The year was 1811 and the above words had been uttered by Adi Sala Cakau from Verata, Ucunivanua, Tailevu.

Adi Sala had been on her way to the sea for an encounter with the god, Degei, when a wisp rising from the forest adorning the crest on a hill had caught her attention.

So taken was Adi Sala by the smoke, it had her wondering as to the physique and countenance of the one responsible for its rising.

According to Ratu Emosi Qicatabua, the chief of Savu Village in the district of Vugalei in the province of Tailevu, it was none other than their ancestral god or vu, Kau.

Ratu Emosi said the strong longing in Adi Sala was matched by that of Kau, who by then already had 23 wives. Even though they had not met, the chemistry between Adi Sala and Kau was strong.

So strong it was, Adi Sala had totally forgotten about her rendezvous with Degei and was intent on making her way to meet Kau up at Delaikurukuru.

"If you really want to," Kau told Adi Sala, "then come up to the mountain and see for yourself who is responsible for the smoke which has so caught your attention."

Ratu Emosi said Adi Sala was so caught up with the prospect of meeting Kau, the smell of what was cooked over the open fire which had wafted down to where she was had her tantalised.

"In the days of old," Ratu Emosi said "they caught and cooked whatever they could get in the jungle.

"Whether it be a snake or what not, they cooked and ate whatever was available."

Her mind made up, Ad Sala then took the form of a shark to travel up the waterway which led to Delaikurukuru to meet Kau.

Working her way up, Adi Sala must have made a sight. Such was the sight she made, that another ancestral god foraging for food in the river she was travelling in exclaimed: "Good lord, what is this I see?"

Realising it was a shark, he stood by a vesi tree and with all his might, hurled a spear at the marine creature injuring its tail. According to legend, Adi Sala as she was making her way up in the form of a shark had the sea following her,

"I do not want our inland waterways to be made stink by the sea. That is why I have stopped the shark" he had said in his fury.

That is why there is a shark made of stone at Savu, Vugalei, Tailevu.

Realsing she would not make it up as a shark, Adi Sala returned as she had come to prepare herself for her next attempt to reach Delaikurukuru.

Instead of taking the form of a shark, she chose to carry on her back a turtle. And instead of going up the river, Adi Sala knew her chances would be better to reach the object of her yearning heart if she travelled on land.

Thus she followed the tualeita, the mountain range which has no rivers, streams or creeks to reach the owner of that wisp of tantalising smoke.

Ratu Emosi said Adi Sala was in such a hurry to reach Delaikurukuru before the sun dipped below the horizon, she forgot to take any drinking water with her. As she neared her destination, she was overcome by a great thirst and so to quench her thirst, she decided to drink from a stream flowing from Delaikurukuru.

Just as she knelt to drink, the turtle she had been carrying on her back fell into the stream where it gave birth to eight baby turtles.

"Not long after the turtle had fallen off her back and gave birth to the eight baby turtles, they all turned into stone up to today," Ratu Emosi said.

He said so distraught was Adi Sala that her gift to Kau was now stone, she approached him bowed and pleaded with him saying: "Sir, the turtle I was bringing as a gift for you fell from my back. I beg you, please forgive me."

Without any hesitation, Kau replied: "I saw what happened and there is nothing to be forgiven as you had been pardoned before you had done anything as I am so taken by your countenance.

"Your beauty is such, it can be likened a rainbow after the earth has been enriched by a light drizzle.

"Come and be my 24th wife and I will give you this patch of plantain, you daughter of Ucunivanua."

Ratu Emosi said the plantain or vudi plants were still at Delaikurukuru today. Such is its abundance, birds feast daily on its fruits.

The 74-year-old chief said attempts to transplant the vudi from Delaikurukuru had all been unsuccessful.

"Maybe, it's because it is a gift from Kau to Adi Sala."

He said the beautiful Adi Sala, whose beauty could be likened to that of angel, and Kau's 23 other wives had no problems at Delaikurukuru. From them originated various clans, including chiefs and warriors, which now form the district of Vugalei.

Ratu Emosi said the only problem their ancestral god had was his fondness of women.

"To this day, he sometimes appears in the form of an unkempt, old Indian man usually begging in towns. The only thing is that he will be talking in the Vugalei dialect.

"When he is attracted to a woman, his eyes usually sparkle as his mind goes into overdrive. So forceful is the power of his attraction, the woman can even literally be floored."

Ratu Emosi said he once related the story of their ancestral god to two students from the Univesity of the South Pacific; one from Serua and the other from Nadroga.

He said they later returned with their thanks as they had scored very good grades in their assessment.

"This oral history about our ancestral god we have kept to this very day," he said with some pride.

He said at the site where Kau resided was a pool in which could be found tilapia, prawns and eels.

"Right next to it is some mangrove no different from the ones which can be found at the beach.

"While that can be said to be surprising, what can be said to be even more surprising is that when one tries to cut a fish taken from that pool on the rocks (which were once turtles) close by, they will not be able to do so.

"To this I can attest. No matter how sharp one's knife, the fish or eel will not be chopped on top of the rocks.

"This is because these were the love gifts of Adi Sala to Kau."

Ratu Emosi said when Adi Sala became Kau's 24th wife, Degei then proclaimed the soil of Vugalei would be enriched supporting all forms of plant life.

He said this was still the case to this day.

Even though they kept their oral tradition alive and well, Ratu Emosi said they did not put too much stock in it as they had been exposed to the eternal truth of the gospel.

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